Neighborhood Parks

I went walking again last night and took pictures in the two neighborhood parks. Come along! Let me show the way.

Neighborhood Park #1 – My favorite

Here is what the entrance looks like. To me, it seems cool and dark and cozy. The narrow trail makes me think I'm walking into the wilderness. And it's funny, this park is right off a busy road with lots of traffic noise but 50 feet in you can no longer hear it. I love that. It gets really peaceful & quiet.

Sorry about the washed out photos, I used my dinky camera phone.

To the best of my knowledge, I think this is a long narrow park looping out and back about a mile or two with lots of smaller loops or deadend trails going off to the sides. The first part is very shrub-like, then it turns into wetlands, then it turns into old forest growth.

There is a bubbling creek that runs right through the middle.

For my bunny-loving neighbors, there are lots of them scampering around. Here's a really bad video… See if you can spot the bunny…

But my favorite thing in this park are all the side trails, some of which seem to lead to secret gardens. I've only wandered down a few so far, but here's what I found… You would never know these things are there unless you took a side path. You can't see them at all from the main trail. Who knows what other treasures are there just waiting to be discovered?

Secret garden #1

Secret garden #2…

What's that peeking over the trees? Looks like a small wooden building. I sure hope it's a potra potty! That would come in handy right about now.

Welp, not a porta potty. Rats. But a cool little building nonetheless.

Ah! An observatory to look out over the wetlands. Cool cattails!

Ummm… Really? wtf?!?! Who would go hunting in a city park in the middle of a residential neighborhood? This never in a million years would have crossed my mind until I saw this sign. Now I'll be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

The other thing I like about this park is it has all these inviting little nooks and crannies that look like picnic or camp sites. If only they came with outlets so I could plug in my laptop I might just be tempted to study here.

At the far end is the old forest growth. It's beautiful. Huge trees, some of which look like they have a diameter of more than 10 feet.

Neighborhood park #2

What I liked about the first one was the cool, dark, closed in feeling. What I like about the second one is how open and airy and inviting it is. Here's the view from the entrance.

This park was built in memory of a man named Jim Evans. There are trees planted all over in his honor and this plaque is at the beginning of the loop trail.

Looks like this lady was also a big part of helping fund the park. Isn't she cute? Kind of a crazy version of the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil statue…

Insert Dixie Chicks "Wide Open Spaces" as background music… It's fitting… In more ways than one…

"Who doesn't know what I'm talking about?
Who's never left home, who's never struck out?
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl's dreams no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn't yet guessed

She needs wide open spaces (spaces)
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the highest stakes."

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It’s Vacation, Dammit!

Welp, I've been in State College for just about two weeks now and it has flown by. I feel pretty settled, all-in-all. Everything's unpacked and I finally got things up on the walls and knick knacks placed. That makes it feel like home. I'll take pictures of the interior soon. Need to mow the grass but have no lawnmower… hmmmm…

My theme these days has been to remind myself over and over that I'm supposed to be on vacation. VACATION, dammit. I'm so programmed to the run run run lifestyle that it's hard to stop and sit still. I have been better the past few days. Giving myself permission to just rest, watch the Olympics, go for long walks, etc. I have one more week of this before things gear up for the semester.

Honestly, I wish I had two weeks. There have been so many things I felt pressured to do since I moved in that I actually got sick I was pushing so much. Now that I'm finished with the major stuff I can get started on resting and relaxing. As Tracy Hakala said, it would be nice if I got to the point that I was bored. Then I will know I'm ready to get back to work.

I've been walking a lot, which I'm happy about. I do have the best of intentions to walk to campus as often as possible. I've walked the route several times and it's pretty easy, but once classes get rolling and I have to think about walking home after dark and changes in the weather I might be singing a different song. Plan B is the bus, there is a stop right outside my house. I have heard that (1) annual bus passes are upwards of $500 and/or (2) students can get passes for free. Hmmm… There's a big difference between $500 and free. Plus it takes a lot longer to ride the bus, so I'll have to factor all that in.

Yesterday and today I walked 4+ miles. My feet protesteth mightily but it feels good. I am really hoping to walk myself back into my skinny clothes. I also started stretching again… Oh my… I used to be super stretchy and limber like a rubber band. Now I bend like a steel pole. I'm working on it. Once I get my bike tuned up I can also ride to campus.

I've been doing quite a bit with my assistantship so far. It's been very daunting, exciting, thought-provoking, and fun. I went to a mini conference last week with a expert on distance learning from the SUNY system. She showed us a whole bunch of really cool technology tools (jing!). There was a session on SecondLife, Penn State has an AWESOME campus. They have really put effort into it and have a very well thought out plan for how to utilize it in a bunch of capacities. I'll blog about my assistantship soon but I need to kind of digest and let things settle for a bit.

Other than that, LOVING this amazing cool August weather. Love love love love. I had to break into my house tonight after I locked myself out. Umm hmmm… Climbing in the kitchen window. Ha ha. And I have found two amazing neighborhood parks that remind me of the Secret Garden. Like my own personal paradise. I'll take pictures and/or videos but I doubt it will do it justice. They are just so quiet and lush and green and hidden away. Sigh… That will be my happy place when I need to unwind.

Dunkin & Isabel are fine. Sleeping and looking out the windows. I put up three of those lambswool window perches and they could not be happier. Sometimes they are in one together, so cute!

Life is good. I am happy.

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A Liberal Walk Around the Block

Went cruising and exploring yesterday. Saw some interesting things. Here we go…

This house has beautiful gardens and lots of Tibetan prayer flags strung through the trees. In the second one you can see the owner watering the garden.

This is definitely Obama-land. Yard signs for him everywhere. Haven't seen a single McCain sign. Interesting.

Saw this sign on a church as I was walking by… Very refreshing… There are also Unitarian and Quaker congregations within five minutes of my house. Haven't seen Ba'hai yet, but I'm sure they're here too. So convenient. I might have to actually start attending one.

Oh wait… Tibetan prayer flags… Obama signs… inclusive churches… Am I in heaven?

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